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Families of Virtue

Families of Virtue: Confucian and Western Views on Childhood Development

ERIN M. CLINE
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 368
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/clin17154
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    Families of Virtue
    Book Description:

    Families of Virtuearticulates the critical role of the parent-child relationship in the moral development of infants and children. Building on thinkers and scientists across time and disciplines, from ancient Greek and Chinese philosophers to contemporary feminist ethicists and attachment theorists, this book takes an effective approach for strengthening families and the character of children.

    Early Confucian philosophers argue that the general ethical sensibilities we develop during infancy and early childhood form the basis for nearly every virtue and that the parent-child relationship is the primary context within which this growth occurs. Joining these views with scientific work on early childhood,Families of Virtueshows how Western psychology can reinforce and renew the theoretical underpinnings of Confucian thought and how Confucian philosophers can affect positive social and political change in our time, particularly in such areas as paid parental leave, breastfeeding initiatives, marriage counseling, and family therapy.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53904-3
    Subjects: Philosophy, Sociology, Religion
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION (pp. xi-xxiv)

    There is considerable evidence that parent–child relationships during infancy and early childhood serve a unique and irreplaceable role in moral development. This has been borne out in experiments showing that the capacity for lively expressions of joy or anger in six-month-old infants depends upon their attachment to supportive, responsive parents during the early weeks and months of life, as well as in controlled studies revealing that children whose parents are supportive and responsive in the earliest period of life exhibit an increased capacity for sympathy as preschoolers. Despite such evidence, philosophers have given little attention to the role of...

  5. I WHAT DID EARLY CONFUCIAN PHILOSOPHERS THINK ABOUT PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS, EARLY CHILDHOOD, AND MORAL CULTIVATION?
    • 1 MORAL CULTIVATION, FILIAL PIETY, AND THE GOOD SOCIETY IN CLASSICAL CONFUCIAN PHILOSOPHY (pp. 3-39)

      Beginning very early in the Confucian tradition, Confucian philosophers argued for the primacy of parent–child relationships in human moral development and the nature and possibility of moral self-cultivation.¹ They also argued that the key to a flourishing society lies most fundamentally in these two areas. As Philip J.Ivanhoe puts it, “Confucians believe that one cannot successfully pursue the ethical life outside of fulfilling certain familial and social obligations. One cannot develop a moral sense without knowing what it is to love and be loved within a human family, and one cannot love and care for one’s family without a...

    • 2 INFANTS, CHILDREN, AND EARLY CONFUCIAN MORAL CULTIVATION (pp. 40-92)

      Although scholars have given considerable attention to the virtue of filial piety and the centrality of family relationships in the early Confucian tradition, there has been little investigation of early Confucian views of parent–child relationships during childhood or the moral cultivation of children.¹ In this chapter I explore what early Confucian thinkers have to say about moral cultivation during childhood, especially in the earliest years of a child’s life but also including discussions of youth. I will focus on three primary questions: First, to what extent is childhood moral cultivation an important part of the views of Kongzi, Mengzi,...

  6. II HOW ARE EARLY CONFUCIAN VIEWS OF PARENT–CHILD RELATIONSHIPS, EARLY CHILDHOOD, AND MORAL CULTIVATION DISTINCTIVE, COMPARED WITH VIEWS IN THE HISTORY OF WESTERN PHILOSOPHY?
    • 3 PARENTS, CHILDREN, AND MORAL CULTIVATION IN TRADITIONAL WESTERN PHILOSOPHY (pp. 95-140)

      One of the central arguments of this work is that the Confucian tradition can make a distinctive contribution to both our understanding of the relationship between the family and moral cultivation and our attempts to promote social and policy change relating to parent–child relationships and moral cultivation. In some areas, the Confucian tradition can lend additional support to views that some of us already hold, reinforcing convictions we already have and thereby providing added strength to our views. Additionally, the Confucian tradition has unique features that can lead us to reflect on issues, questions, and potential solutions that other...

    • 4 FEMINIST AND CONFUCIAN PERSPECTIVES ON PARENTS, CHILDREN, AND MORAL CULTIVATION (pp. 141-186)

      While many philosophers tend to think of almost all feminist philosophers, and especially care ethicists, as sharing a concern with the family, such views underestimate the diversity of views, approaches, and concerns in contemporary feminist philosophy. Even within feminist philosophy, there is not a large body of literature that focuses on the role of parent–child relationships in moral cultivation. Nevertheless, in the work of Sara Ruddick, Nel Noddings, and Virginia Held, we find a sustained and sophisticated engagement with this topic. In addition to devoting particularly extensive and detailed attention to the role of parent–child relationships in moral...

  7. III WHY DO CONFUCIAN VIEWS OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARENT–CHILD RELATIONSHIPS, EARLY CHILDHOOD, AND MORAL CULTIVATION WARRANT SERIOUS CONSIDERATION, AND WHAT CAN THEY CONTRIBUTE TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THESE AREAS?
    • 5 EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AND EVIDENCE-BASED APPROACHES TO PARENTS, CHILDREN, AND MORAL CULTIVATION (pp. 189-236)

      We have thus far seen that Confucian philosophers make a range of distinctive claims about the specific role of parent–child relationships in moral cultivation during the earliest years of a child’s life and its implications for the development of a good society, including the claim that the general ethical sensibilities we begin to develop during infancy and early childhood, and even during the prenatal period, are the basis for nearly every virtue and that early childhood education within the family has adirect bearingon the quality of a society. Further, as we have seen, the Confucian tradition brings...

    • 6 THE HUMANITIES AT WORK: Confucian Resources for Social and Policy Change (pp. 237-286)

      How might early Confucian views of parent–child relationships and early childhood moral cultivation serve as a constructive resource for us today? I contend that Confucianism can help us reconsider the role of parent–child relationships in a good society and that if we take Confucian views seriously, we will be led to endorse certain kinds of social and policy change. I begin by addressing how early Confucian views on these matters can contribute to discussions in contemporary political philosophy, but in the remainder of this chapter, I argue that Confucian views can make contributions that go beyond theoretical discussions....

  8. CONCLUSION (pp. 287-294)

    In this work I have argued that early Confucian accounts of the role of parent–child relationships in moral cultivation have much to teach us. When compared with philosophers throughout the history of Western philosophy, Confucian philosophers stand alone in recognizing and giving sustained attention to the unique and irreplaceable importance of parent–child relationships in moral cultivation, especially during the earliest years of our lives. Even when compared with the work of contemporary feminist philosophers, some of whom do emphasize the unique value of parent–child relationships, the work of Confucian philosophers stands out for its insistence on the...

  9. NOTES (pp. 295-314)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. 315-328)
  11. INDEX (pp. 329-342)